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Navigating the Complexities of Immigration and Character Issues: What You Need to Know

Immigration New Zealand, like other countries, has fairly strict qualifying criteria for who is allowed into the country. Using modern technology like digital fingerprint scanning, and live information sharing with other countries allows INZ to make more informed decisions on who can arrive here. It is not unheard of potential visitors to be "deplaned" at their departure airport due to potential security risks.

INZ require people who intend to remain here for certain periods of time to provide police background checks. You can find out if you need one and what type to get here. The INZ Operations Manual, section A5 sets out character requirements. This largely reflects similar provisions in the Immigration Act 2009, but goes into more detail. A5.1 of the Operations Manual states that applicants must be of both "good character" and not pose a security risk.

All criminal convictions need to be disclosed to INZ when making an application for a visa or residency. This is also the case if your conviction has been wiped (like the Clean Slate Act 2004, applying to New Zealand convictions), due to some sort of program or legislation in your country, as those laws do not apply in New Zealand.

Not providing that information to INZ, for example, where your conviction has been wiped, will be seen as failing to provide material information, and may result in your application being declined.

Depending on the severity of the conviction, and whether or not you were jailed (suspended jail sentences are not an exception), you may be ineligible for a visa, if you are not granted a Special Direction (a topic for another time). Some convictions can be worked around, if they are fairly minor, and are historical. Another option for people applying for a visa with a criminal conviction is a character waiver. This is something you request in writing to the officer in charge of your application, and supporting evidence must be provided.

I regularly process character waivers for my clients, and have not had one declined to date. However, applicants with criminal histories of sexual offending or domestic violence will have a difficult time migrating to New Zealand, if they can at all.

If you need help with a character waiver or special direction, you can book in a free 15 minute consultation here. I will be able to explain the process to you, and whether it is worth proceeding with or not.

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